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Midlands Voices: Tariffs could slow surging Nebraska wind industry

few American industries would be more deeply damaged by the administration’s pending trade actions than the wind energy industry. ...The steady growth that has defined the wind energy industry over the last decade would slow dramatically as producers scramble to substitute tariffed components with significantly more expensive — and often unavailable — alternatives.

In the 20 years since Nebraska’s first wind farm began operations, wind energy businesses have invested more than $2.6 billion in the state. Nearly 2,000 Nebraskans now work in the wind industry, where wind technicians on average make close to $55,000 annually and work and live in rural areas. Thousands more construct wind farms across the state, infusing hundreds of millions of dollars in new wages and spending into local economies.
More broadly, the wind industry is one of the fastest growing and most vital sectors in the American economy, investing $145 billion nationally through 2017. More than 105,000 Americans work in wind, and 50,000 of these jobs were created in the last four years alone. In a stable policy environment, U.S. wind power will continue to grow, and Nebraska, with its nation-leading wind potential, will be at the heart of that growth.
Wind energy generation does not use water, does not pollute and can be farmed around. Farmers get paid for their participation as new energy producers. Tens of millions of dollars in lease payments flow from the industry to farmers annually, providing a reliable... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
In the 20 years since Nebraska’s first wind farm began operations, wind energy businesses have invested more than $2.6 billion in the state. Nearly 2,000 Nebraskans now work in the wind industry, where wind technicians on average make close to $55,000 annually and work and live in rural areas. Thousands more construct wind farms across the state, infusing hundreds of millions of dollars in new wages and spending into local economies.
 
More broadly, the wind industry is one of the fastest growing and most vital sectors in the American economy, investing $145 billion nationally through 2017. More than 105,000 Americans work in wind, and 50,000 of these jobs were created in the last four years alone. In a stable policy environment, U.S. wind power will continue to grow, and Nebraska, with its nation-leading wind potential, will be at the heart of that growth.
 
Wind energy generation does not use water, does not pollute and can be farmed around. Farmers get paid for their participation as new energy producers. Tens of millions of dollars in lease payments flow from the industry to farmers annually, providing a reliable financial boost amid low commodity prices.
 
Nebraska currently generates over 14 percent of its electricity from wind power, and while that is no small feat, we have the potential to do much more. States such as Iowa, South Dakota and Kansas generate more than 30 percent of their electricity using wind. Nebraska, according to the Department of Energy, has stronger wind resources than all three of those states. Developing this resource closer to its full potential would be a boon for Nebraska and would drive billions in new investment, create thousands of jobs, generate significant tax revenues that can help alleviate high property tax rates and make energy prices more affordable and predictable.
 
Unfortunately, none of this can happen if the administration moves forward with its plan to subject dozens of parts, products and components essential to wind energy production to steep tariffs amid ongoing international trade talks.
 
Make no mistake — policymakers should do all they can to strengthen our global economic position, and they deserve our support in their efforts to do so. American companies should not have to compete on an uneven playing field.
 
Given the high stakes, it is also essential that our policymakers maintain focus on the impact their actions will have in Nebraska. Nuance and details matter, and the administration cannot allow a desire to “win” to compel it to enact policy changes that would leave domestic job creators worse off than before.
 
Unfortunately, pending tariffs on wind energy components would do just that. And they would run almost completely contrary to the top-level goals of economic development, energy dominance, stronger infrastructure, job creation and rural opportunity that have guided the administration to date.
 
Few American industries do more to advance these goals than wind energy. And, ironically, few American industries would be more deeply damaged by the administration’s pending trade actions than the wind energy industry. If enacted, these tariffs would harm American wind businesses. The steady growth that has defined the wind energy industry over the last decade would slow dramatically as producers scramble to substitute tariffed components with significantly more expensive — and often unavailable — alternatives.
 
The wind industry has already felt the impact of the administration’s tariffs on steel and aluminum. Adding more draconian tariffs on these components would make a challenging situation worse. If new tariffs advance, investment in new wind infrastructure will erode, and thousands of wind industry jobs will be lost.
 
The administration’s efforts to address unfair trade practices overseas are important, and done right, will brighten our economic future. But new tariffs for the wind industry are not the right path forward. Self-inflicted wounds will not make America more competitive.
 
Nebraska has a lot to gain if the wind industry continues its growth. And it has just as much to lose if these tariffs move forward. Concerned voters should ask their congressional representatives to urge the administration to exempt wind energy components from these harmful tariffs.
 
The writer is a partner and chair of the energy practice group at Baird Holm law firm in Omaha, representing wind and solar energy developers, Nebraska municipal utilities and rural public power districts. This commentary reflects his personal views and not the views of Baird Holm.

Source: https://www.omaha.com/opini...

OCT 11 2018
http://www.windaction.org/posts/48955-midlands-voices-tariffs-could-slow-surging-nebraska-wind-industry
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